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Fibroids: Causes, Symptoms& Types

What are Fibroids?

Fibroids are a type of benign muscular tumors that develop in the uterus wall. Fibroids are also called Uterine Fibroids, Myoma or Leiomyoma.

Facts about Fibroids

  • Uterine fibroids affect more than 20% – 80% of women between 30 – 50 years of age.
  • Obese or overweight women have a higher chance of developing fibroids.
  • The size of fibroids can range from as small as a pea to as large as a lemon.
  • Multiple uterine fibroids can grow in the uterus.
  • All patients do not experience the symptoms of the disease, which is the main reason why most women don’t get a diagnosis.
  • Fibroids are non-cancerous, but 1 in a 1000 women can have a cancerous fibroid.

Fibroids Treatment in India

There are several techniques and treatment approaches that can be used for treating uterine fibroids that can often confuse patients. The cost of uterine fibroid treatment can also be high, which often make women delay their treatment.

Fortunately, with medical tourism coming into the picture, patients can find cost-effective quality care in India. Indian gynecologists will help patients select the right procedure for their fibroids treatment in India with world-class facilities.

Foreign patients can undergo uterine fibroid surgery in India, from experienced doctors, who use state-of-the-art technology for treating them with minimally invasive techniques.

Overview

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous in nature and usually develop on the smooth tissue muscle of the uterus. This mass can grow during the childbearing years, and its size might also differ.

Causes of Uterine Fibroids

The exact cause or the development of fibroids is unknown, but there are several factors that can influence their formation, including:

Hormones

Female ovaries produce two hormones: Estrogen& Progesterone. They are responsible for regenerating the uterine lining during each menstrual cycle, and their excess production can stimulate the mass to grow in the uterus.

Family History

In most cases, Fibroids runs in the family. A patient is likely to develop it, if their mother, sister and grandmother have it.

Pregnancy

The production of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) increases during pregnancy, which might cause the uterine fibroids to grow rapidly in the body.

Who is at high risk of developing uterine fibroids?

Age

Aging increases the risk of fibroids in women, especially during their 30s and 40s when they are going through menopause. The fibroids usually shrink after menopause.

Ethnic origin

African-American women are at more risk of developing fibroids than white women.

Family history

As discussed above, patients with a family history in fibroid are more prone to develop fibroids.

Obesity

Overweight women tend to have a three to four times greater risk of fibroids than average.

Eating habits

High consumption of red meat and ham is associated with a higher risk of uterine fibroids, while vegetable seems to prevent it.

Symptoms of Fibroids

In most cases, patients don’t experience any symptoms, but some patients can have:

  • Painful Periods or Heavy bleeding (that can cause the risk of anemia)
  • The feeling of fullness in the lower stomach area (pelvic area)
  • Lower abdomen enlargement
  • Frequent urination
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Difficulty Conceiving
  • Complications during pregnancy (cesarean risk)
  • Reproductive problems, like infertility (rare)

Types of Fibroids

Fibroids have been categorized into 4 types based on the location where they develop in the uterus.

Intramural fibroids: are among the most common type of uterine fibroids that appears on the endometrium (muscle lining) of the uterus.

Sub-mucosal fibroids: develop in the myometrium (inner lining) of the uterus that might extend to the uterine cavity. They are rare when compared with other types of Fibroids. Patients usually have trouble conceiving and have heavy menstrual bleeding because of these masses.

Sub-serosal fibroids: appear close to the outer portion of the uterus – partly inside myometrium and partly outside it.

Pedunculated fibroids: appears when sub-serosal or sub-mucosal fibroids develop into a slender base which supports the tumor.

Can fibroids turn into cancer?

Fibroids are almost benign (not cancerous) in most cases. Rarely a cancerous fibroid case occurs. If it occurs, the condition is called leiomyosarcoma. However, researchers suggest that already-existing fibroids are not the cause of cancer. So, having cancer will not increase a patient’s risk of developing a uterine tumor or other types of carcinomas.

What happens if a woman with fibroids become pregnant?

Women with fibroids are more likely to encounter complications throughout their pregnancy and during their delivery. However, some women with fibroids also have normal pregnancies.

These are some common complications pregnant women with fibroids might go through:

Cesarean section – The risk of requiring a c-section is around six times higher for women with fibroids.

Baby is breech – The position of the baby is not appropriate for vaginal delivery.

Some patient’s labor does not progress.

Placental Abruption – The placenta detaches or breaks away from the uterus wall before the delivery. Under this situation, the fetus is unable to get enough oxygen.

Preterm delivery.

Patients are suggested to contact their obstetrician and get checked for fibroids and before or after getting pregnant. In case a patient have uterine fibroids, they don’t have to worry all obstetricians have experience dealing with pregnancy and fibroids.

How is fibroid diagnosed?

Patient’s gynecologist might find fibroids during a regular pelvic exam whey they check their ovaries, uterus and vagina. The mass can be felt on the fingers during an ordinary pelvic exam. The size of the fibroid is described as their fetus size as if they were pregnant, by comparing it with food items.

The doctor will then perform imaging tests for confirming that the patient has fibroids. These diagnostic tests may include:

Ultrasound – uses sound waves for producing the images. The ultrasound probe is placed on the patient’s abdomen or the vagina for making the picture.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – uses magnets & radio wave energy for producing the picture.

X-rays – use radiations that produce images of the patient’s internal organs.

Cat Scan (CT) – uses X-ray for developing pictures of the target from different angles to form a complete image.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)/ Sonohysterogram – involves injecting x-ray dye inside the uterus and then locating the dye to take x-ray pictures. A Sonohysterogram involves the use of water inside the uterus instead of x-ray dye for producing ultrasound pictures.

In some cases, a surgical procedure might be required for diagnosing mass formation in the body.

Laparoscopy – The doctor will insert a long, thin scope that has a camera and light through a small incision that is made near the navel. The camera will be used by the doctor for viewing the uterus and other organs.

Hysteroscopy – The medical professional inserts a thin tube attached with a camera inside the uterus through the patient’s vagina and cervix without making any incisions. Then the images developed by the camera are used to check the fibroids.

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